View Full Version : Airship pirates!!

06-30-2014, 14:27
"Our fire's high and the airbag's tight,
Our food's low but the skies are bright
Props spinning all through the night,
We're low on cash but we've seen another target.

Goggles down, and the cannons up
My blood starts pumping as I drain my cup.
I give the wheel a spin and I turn this girl around,
We're way above ground but we're closing on our target

With a crew of drunken pilots,
We're the only airship pirates!
We're full of hot air and we're starting to rise
We're the terror of the skies, but a danger to ourselves now ..."
-- "Airship Pirates" by Abney Park

Steampunk: noun. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West," in which technologies imagined by speculative authors of the time, such as Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, found creation and significantly affect the world.

I've been a huge fan of Steampunk for ages, and one aspect of many steampunk stories is the widespread use of airships for travel. And with such travel comes those who prey upon it -- airship pirates! With that in mind, add in the fact that I'm also a huge fan of air-combat games, particularly Wings of Glory, and the natural conclusion is that after playing Sails of Glory only a few times, I'm already imagining how the game could simulate airship battles in a steampunk world. :fixit:

Coming up with rules for that should be pretty easy, and as for miniatures, I'm going to hunt around toy or hobby stores for sailing ships that look good, are small enough for the game, and cheap enough that I don't cringe at cutting them up and modifying their appearance. :minis:

Here's my question for everybody, though ... In terms of potential game play and general fun, what do you think would be the best method of lift I should use for the ships? Among the choices are:
* Hydrogen: The advantage is that it was used in real life, and therefore real-world airship physics could be used in game play. The big problems for crews would be the same problems faced by Zeppelins -- an onboard fire could very quickly spell the doom of the entire ship. Also, damage to hydrogen cells could cause them to leak and rip open, resulting in the airship losing balance and buoyancy.
* Helium: In this, we would imagine that a large supply of helium was discovered somewhere, or that it's more common that what is found in the real world. In this case, a helium-lifted ship would face the same issues as a hydrogen-lifted one, except that the crews wouldn't have to worry about a fire causing a catastrophic explosion.
* Super-science: In this reality, scientists have discovered something that imparts lighter-than-air qualities. Maybe somebody invented an anti-gravity machine, or an incredible strain of wood was discovered that floats when soaked in a complex chemical bath. Whatever the case, the ship is able to fly without having a balloon overhead, and so the existing Sails of Glory rules would be changed very little, except to add flight and remove leak-damage results.

FYI, for ships with hydrogen or helium balloons, the sails would be mounted upside down on the bottom of the ship, with the balloons on top.

Please bear in mind that I'm just having fun with this idea, with the hoped result being something I can play while bedecked in my favorite goggles, chronometer pendant and airship harness. :happy:

See you in the skies! :wink:

-- Eris

p.s. If you haven't heard of Abney Park, I highly advise that you check out some of their songs on YouTube and elsewhere online. About a half-dozen albums ago (starting with "Lost Horizons"), most of their songs tie together into a huge arcing storyline about an alternative Earth where an alternative Abney Park fly the skies as airship pirates. Supposedly, the band was flying to a concert gig about five years ago, and their plane collided with a time-traveling airship. Captain Robert Brown, the leader (and song writer) of Abney Park, pulled the survivors together, and they went back in time to fix historical wrongs and make a better world. Unfortunately, they made a mistake and caused the apocalypse. Oops! :embarass:

06-30-2014, 14:43
Here's a movie you might like. Check 1:00:30.


06-30-2014, 14:55
Oh, YES! "Master of the World," starring Vincent Price (one of my all-time favorite actors), a 1961 movie based on the Jules Verne novels "Robur the Conqueror" and "Master of the World". (And, yes, that's future tough-guy Charles Bronson acting in the movie, too!) Real fun! I didn't know it was online. Thanks for posting it! :clap:

-- Eris

02-14-2015, 15:11
Certainly if you are into steampunk, you must be aware of Space 1889, and the aerial combat game Sky Galleons of Mars? It's well thought-out historically, and does feature airships and liftwood. It's a kind of clunky combat system, but it's still fun. I ended up re-writing my own set of Sky Galleons rules to make it more wargame-like.

02-14-2015, 16:18
Airship pirates, eh? If you've not seen this Disney re-imagining of Robert Louis Stevenson's, Treasure Island you might enjoy it? It was actually released as a computer game as well (Battle of Procyon), and I always thought it might make an interesting Steampunk 'Space" miniature game too.



For a later period Steampunk game check out Leviathans by Catalyst Game Labs (if you can find a copy anymore). The game is in hiatus until they figure out where they're going next?


I do know Abney Park and like them quite a lot, but they're not alone in the SP business although they've been around a lot longer than many.


I rather like Vernian Process, plus we have a local SP convention that has featured several great artists; Unwoman, Frenchy and the Punk, Veronique Chevalier and Vourteque. Btw Nathaniel Johnstone left Abney Park in 2011 and has his own band now. Great music.



02-14-2015, 18:20
It's a kind of clunky combat system, but it's still fun.

"Clunky"? I can whip through combats with it faster than most naval-combat systems. The only problem with it is: The history of aerial gunboats doesn't start until after the ACW, so there's no chance of the Rebels breaking the blockade by going over it....